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Panel weighs COVID bonuses for Minnesota’s frontline workers Medical student Kimberly Olivares, left, takes a sample from a patient at a free COVID-19 testing site provided by United Memorial Medical Center, Sunday, June 28, 2020, at the Mexican Consulate, in Houston. Confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Texas continue to surge. On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shut down bars again and scaled back restaurant dining as cases climbed to record levels after the state embarked on one of America's fastest reopenings. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Health care, school and food workers who risked their lives at the height of the pandemic have made pitches for a piece of the $250 million in COVID-19 relief money that Minnesota plans to allocate as bonuses to essential frontline workers.

They told their stories Wednesday as a bipartisan panel of nine Minnesota lawmakers began sorting out who should get the money and how much.

The working group faces difficult decisions over the next six weeks to determine which groups of potentially hundreds of thousands of workers are the most deserving. The more workers who get the money, the smaller the payments must be.

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